JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Chairman of the Indonesian haj and umrah organizers (Sapuhi) Syam Resfiadi expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to postpone umrah (minor haj) due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
“We can’t rely on the government. They don’t understand us,” Syam, who is also the owner of Travel Patuna Mekar Jaya, told Kompas.com on Monday, December 20.
Muslim pilgrims from around the world perform umrah to Islam’s two holiest sites in Saudi Arabia that take place at any time of year.
He hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic would be over so that the business could soon recover. He said that many haj and umrah travel agencies closed down as one of the worst-hit sectors in the Covid-19 crisis.
“Only 25 percent or 400 out of 1,523 haj and umrah travel agencies have survived during the pandemic,” he said.
He added that the funds collected from the prospective umrah pilgrims have been deposited into the Sapuhi’s bank account. Although the funds are refundable, the prospective umrah pilgrims prefer to wait for another time of departure.
Previously, the government announced that the departure of Umrah pilgrims had been postponed amid the emergence of the omicron variant. The announcement came after President Joko Widodo and Religious Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas called on the public to postpone their plan to go abroad.
“We certainly prioritize the safety of the prospective pilgrims amid the Covid-19 pandemic, especially after the emergence of the Omicron variant,” said the Religious Affairs Ministry’s haj and umrah director general Hilman Latief on Saturday, December 18.